Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Dr. Gates stand - is it really black and white?

Colin Powell is the latest bigwig to opine on the Henry Louis Gates v. Cambridge Police Dept. I have the deepest respect for Colin Powell as I do for Dr. Gates. Powell, after all, went against “his” administration to resign over the war. Is there a bigger act of defiance?

Powell commented that he didn’t agree with Dr. Gates actions over yelling at the Cambridge Police in a recent CNN article:

In the article, Colin Powell shares having been racially profiled again and again - he, one of the most respected men in the nation. He questioned Dr. Gates wisdom over making it an issue. My thoughts immediately were, if one of the respected men in the nation suffered being racially profiled numerous times, why isn’t this a huge, enormous issue? Why isn’t he applauding Dr. Gates for bringing this issue to the forefront?

Colin Powell talks about picking the right time for your battles. When is it the right time? Dr. Gates was tired after his long, long, LONG trip back from China. But was it really the China trip – or a life time of the little injustices building up? Did it hit at the right time that he wasn’t going to back down? He was fed up, sick and tired. It reminds me of Rosa Parks saying, that day, she was tired and she didn’t feel like sitting on back of the bus. What if she gave in that day? Played by the rules set for her? Am I stretching it too far by using that analogy or are they part of the same....

In my own life, I try to play nice, but little things stew. Girls are taught to play nice and get along with others. You don’t want to be seen as a nasty bitch – but then again, I’m making this about me. But why not? Is this just a black and white issue or is it a story we all can relate to in our own unique way? Introducing the Gates issue on Countdown with Keith Olberman, Lawrence O’Donnell recounted his own interaction and arrest with the police – a similar situation to Dr. Gates. He mouthed off. Doesn’t that go against our 2nd amendment rights – being arrested for saying what you want to, especially on your own property? Christopher Hitchens of Slate magazine outlines that point here:

When we can’t question authority, here, in the U.S. who are we becoming? An Irish √©migr√© told me that growing up in Ireland, he looked to America and its ideals but America now has to get off its duff and stand up for its original ideals of freedom and democracy. I couldn’t deny what he saying. Freedom isn’t a campaign slogan or something to take for granted while it’s being whittled away for someone else’s gain (i.e. Homeland Security, Patriot Act, etc., etc. and anytime you couldn't say what you truly felt for fear of retribution either by your boss, co-worker or even a loved one). It’s your right to be. And sometimes seeming unreasonable, is the only reasonable way to maintain that.

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